I recently took my mum to L’Ecrivain in Dublin to celebrate a big birthday – I don’t get to spend her birthday with her that often, so we had to do it in style. With my dad and my wife also accompanying us we had a table for four, giving this wine enthusiast a chance to order several different bottles for the table!
Three of us chose the pork belly starter and one chose trout, so I went for a very slightly off dry white. Wine tip: to accentuate the sweetness of a white wine, swirl it round in the glass so it warms up a little.
The Wairarapa is in the south of New Zealand’s North Island, fairly close to the capital Wellington. If the place sounds like a mouthful then the wines definitely are – but in a good way! Fifth generation Kiwi Paddy Borthwick makes this tangy and fresh Riesling. Citrus, ginger and exotic spices compete for your attention, striking acidity perfectly balanced by a touch of sweetness. A great match for the pork belly, and would also really shine with Asian food.
As all our party ordered a beef main course, I chose two different full-bodied red wines which were served at the same time:
As the name suggests, the Ribero del Duero is based around the banks of the River Duero which runs through Northern Spain and into Portugal; there it forms the heart of the Duoro valley where Port is made. Ribero wines are based on Tempranillo just like Rioja, but smaller berries and thicker skins give darker, more intense black fruit flavours. French oak adds smokiness and fine tannins. This was a tremendously smooth wine with a very long finish.
Aussie Shiraz is usually big, bold, and busting with fruit. I do like that style, but in recent years the focus has shifted to cooler climate regions of the country, with a little more balance and subtlety. Adelaide Hills is a premium area (based in the hills close to Adelaide, funnily enough!) also perfect for Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. This is a great example of a Shiraz that pairs with food rather than dominates it. The acidity helps to keep it fresh rather than jammy – after all, jam doesn’t really go with savoury dishes. And just a word about the label – it’s stunning! Specially commissioned by Longview, it shouldn’t affect appreciation of the contents but it does add extra class in my eyes.
And finally, the majority of us selected the chocolate ganache dessert. Both of the reds went well with the chocolate, the Shiraz perhaps shading the lead with its slightly sweeter fruit.
Frankie caught the wine bug living in France in the 90s and has been sharing his love of wine ever since. He also writes for his own blog Frankly Wines, Glass Of Bubbly magazine and he runs private wine tasting events.